Tesco is gearing up for next year’s tobacco display ban by trialling screens across the front of tobacco kiosks.

The plain white screens were spotted at the supermarket giant’s store in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, this week. The screens cover the kiosk, but also display signs saying ‘kiosk open’. “There were white panels across everything,” a shopper told The Grocer. “You couldn’t see any cigarettes.”

The tobacco display ban is set to come into force in large stores in England from April next year. “We are trialling a kiosk display in a small number of stores to ensure it will comply with the law and, at the same time, work for our staff and our customers,” a Tesco spokesman said.

Under the ban, tobacco will no longer be on view to customers, although regulations have been relaxed so that the size of the display allowed to be visible when serving customers or carrying out a stock take or maintenance work has increased from 0.75 sq m to 1.5 sq m.

The multiples sell about £5bn of tobacco a year, and there are concerns sales could fall in larger stores.

Last month, Booker CEO Charles Wilson predicted independent retailers could be in line for a £1bn sales bonanza when supermarket tobacco sales go dark next year. C-stores are exempt from the ban until 2015 and Wilson predicted indies would gain £500m in extra tobacco sales and £500m in incremental sales.

Meanwhile, a date has now been set for the hearing of Imperial Tobacco’s application for a judicial review of the display ban regulation. The session will begin on 6 February 2012